U.S. Catholic bishops mark 9/11 anniversary with stories of heroes

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The U.S. bishops' conference launched a website Aug. 12 to mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11 terrorist attacks with a series of stories on heroic men and women who encountered both suffering and hope.

“If I had to sum up 9/11, I would say it was a time in which people taught this nation and the world how to be strong and how to be willing to sacrifice themselves for others,” said Cardinal Edward Egan, former Archbishop of New York.

“It was a terrible tragedy, it was a crime, but it was a magnificent manifestation of courage and willingness to sacrifice self.”

The website, titled “The Catholic Church Remembers,” features videos of church leaders, priests and laymen and women that give “people’s firsthand experiences of pain and hope from the disaster,” the bishops conference said.

In his video segment, Cardinal Egan vividly remembers the moment after the planes hit the World Trade Center, when then-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani called and asked him to help receive and comfort patients at the local St. Vincent’s Hospital.

He describes finding closure at Ground Zero with Pope Benedict XVI in April 2008, as the Pope met with victims’ families, lit a candle and prayed.
          
The website also includes video of Chaplain Donald Rutherford, a two-star general and Catholic priest who is the head of all U.S. military chaplains.

Another personal account comes from Msgr. Anthony Sherman, a Brooklyn pastor. Msgr. Sherman led funerals for parishioners who died in the attacks, including firefighters, and a woman whose marriage he had officiated at a year before and who had announced on Sept. 10 that she was pregnant.

“9/11 led us all into the very depths of the mysteries of human suffering, death and resurrection. We discovered that we cannot obtain nor find all the answers to the atrocities we experienced,” Msgr. Sherman said.

“Yet with God’s grace we also experienced the height of human sacrifice and the ability of our brothers and sisters to manifest heroic love.”

The site also features the stories of Beverly and Thomas Burnett, Sr. – who's son Thomas Burnett, Jr. helped bring down the plane headed for the White House – and New York City firefighter Kenneth Zaveckas, who lost 343 fellow firefighters when the Twin Towers crumbled.

To visit the site, click here

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